Stop Using Toxic Teflon Floss

| Jul 22, 2017

The dental industry is rife with potential health risks, many of which we’ve discussed in previous articles: fluoride, toxic toothpaste, mercury-contaminated amalgams, and more. You may not be aware, though, that even the wrong floss can be hazardous.

Now don’t get the wrong idea—the last thing we want to do is discourage you from flossing. Dentists may use some shady materials in their trade, but they’re completely right that flossing is critical for maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. While there haven’t yet been any long-term studies on the beneficial effects of flossing, researchers have determined that “interdental cleaning” (of which flossing is one kind) is helpful for protecting oral health.[1]

Mounting evidence even suggests that improper oral hygiene can have far graver consequences than cavities and other seemingly insignificant dental issues. On the contrary, many health experts now believe that the health of your teeth and gums reflects the health of the rest of your body—so it’s wise to give them the care they need.

Because oral care is a somewhat underestimated aspect of health, it often serves as a weak link that allows imbalance to arise in the body.

For example, improper oral hygiene can lead to inflammation or bacterial infection in the soft tissues of the mouth—these conditions, even if low-grade, can lead to systemic inflammation and infection, which can significantly hamper performance and overall wellness. Studies have even found that the health of the oral microbiome is closely linked with your gut microbiome, and can affect your risk of developing cancer[2] and metabolic diseases (such as type 2 diabetes and obesity).[3]

In case you still need another reason to practice flossing and other recommended forms of oral healthcare, know that nearly half of Americans suffer from periodontal disease, a severe gum infection that damages oral tissues and even your jawbone.

If you’re going to floss, though, you need do it the right way. Researchers already warn that intermittent flossing or poor flossing technique dramatically reduces the practice’s plaque removal efficacy. Now new reports remind us that many brands of floss are covered with the same toxic non-stick coating found on some pots and pans.

How to floss safely (and stop poisoning yourself)

You may recall from our past articles that non-stick chemical coatings like Teflon are hazardous for your health—when you use non-stick cookware, chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid can flake off into your food and cause plenty of toxic results. Studies have linked polyfluorochemicals (PFCs) to many diseases, including birth defects, eye dysfunction, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, DNA damage, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, hypertension, thyroid disease, and more.[4]

Here’s the bad news: your floss may very well be made from these same chemicals. It turns out that Teflon (the trade name for the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene) does not become wet when exposed to water. This property makes it perfect for flossing, since it needs to maintain its structure while you put it to work. Much of the time, floss is simply melted and processed strands of Teflon polymers, which are then coated with waxes and flavors. Some floss even gets an extra coating of fluoride.

And flossing with PFC-coated floss is even worse than cooking with Teflon pans, because you’re depositing these noxious chemicals directly into the highly permeable soft tissues in your mouth.

To make matters worse, manufacturers are not required to disclose what they use to make their floss—so it can be difficult to determine whether your floss is suspect. Here’s hint, though: nearly all of the floss made by major dental care brands are bound to composed of either Teflon or nylon (which you also shouldn’t be rubbing against your mucus membranes).

There are, however, an increasing number of health-conscious and eco-friendly companies innovating new floss products. Look for labels that specify the Teflon alternatives used in production (vegetable wax is a popular material). When in doubt, reach out to the company and simply ask (though a lack of any ingredient label usually means that you should steer clear).

Alternatively, you can purchase a water flosser instead; this ingenious little machine directs a stream of pressurized water between your teeth, and is as effective as flossing for preventing plaque buildup.

You can also ensure better oral health and reduce your dependence upon flossing by practicing other hygiene methods. Oil pulling with coconut oil, for example, has been shown to prevent or even eliminate cavities, gingivitis, and other dental problems—and it can even whiten teeth.

Whichever path you choose, just remember that oral health is worthy of your attention. If you’ve been putting off switching to a healthier floss, beginning to floss in the first place, or adopting other critical dental hygiene practices, make it a priority this month—you may be surprised by the powerful effect such vigilance has on every aspect of your health.







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